There are some things money can’t buy…and one of them is a public backlash from a horde of angry Indians.
Hundreds of Indian users are claiming that they’ll be giving up their Mastercard cards and switch to RuPay cards after it emerged that Mastercard had complained to the US government about RuPay’s progress. A Reuters report had accessed communication between Mastercard and the US government from June, in which it had said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was promoting RuPay “using nationalism,” and thus hurting Mastercard’s own business in the country.
This has prompted two kinds of reactions online — one set of people are lauding RuPay’s progress in competing with a multinational giant, and marveling how RuPay has become a viable competitor to Mastercard in the few short years of its existence. The other reaction has been more extreme — not satisfied with Mastercard losing marketshare, some people are looking to accelerate its downfall by giving up their own Mastercard cards, and substituting them with RuPay cards.
After this, my husband and I have applied for RuPay cards. Will try to move away from a company that cries to mommy at the first sign of competition https://t.co/tTKpwrzChK
— Nupur J Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) November 2, 2018
We have 11 cards in our family.
All will be changed to Rupay.
— ASLI FAN (@ASLIFAN) November 4, 2018
— ML Bagri (@Makhanlal2_) November 3, 2018
I'm transferring all the money I've in MasterCard to RuPay this week.
A sales staff of a multi national company told me. There is a wave of RuPay in Indians. Its safe and secure. Yaaay!#Mastercard #RuPay
— TheGiniKhan (@giniromet) November 4, 2018
Some others are trolling Mastercard for the complaint in the first place, calling them crybabies.
— Vikas Singh (@Rbks007) November 3, 2018
— Kaushik মজিন্দাৰ Baruah (@KaushikBaruah) November 3, 2018
And the memes have begun as well.
#Mastercard lodged a complaint against our countries payment gateway for their own profitability. Now its time to junk their card in an appropriate manner. @RuPay_npci @Visa @Mastercard @mastercardindia pic.twitter.com/tl5dDY39ke
— Devasana (@PidiBuster) November 2, 2018
There are some things money can't buy, for everything else… We have RuPay.
Kindly sod off. https://t.co/nP5VoZWbEn
— Chopdasaab (@Chopdasaab) November 2, 2018
This is turning out to be a bit of a PR disaster for Mastercard. Not only has it been cast as being worried about the emergence of an Indian competitor, it’s also being seen as having gone crying to the US government for help. What’s worse, it has gone ahead and criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “using nationalism” to promote RuPay — that’s something that most Indians don’t take kindly to. After a 200-year-long history of British rule, Indians are particularly sensitive towards domestic firms that are being threatened by powerful multinationals, and are usually sympathetic to their cause.
And this might be the spurt of popularity RuPay needed. The NPCI product has been quietly taking away marketshare from Mastercard and Visa, thanks to its cheaper fees, but it wasn’t really on the top of people’s minds. The recent controversy appears to have changed all that — RuPay has seen a surge in Google searches, with searches for “RuPay” hitting 4x their usual volume when the news broke.
Mastercard might’ve thought that it would get a leg up in competing against RuPay when it had complained to the US government in June. Instead, it’s managed to give RuPay the mindshare and publicity that it never had, and even managed to get some people to give up its cards and substitute them with RuPay’s. As far as business strategies go, this won’t exactly go down in history as Mastercard’s shining moment of glory.